Comprehension monitoring

Comprehension monitoring is the term for when a reader thinks actively about how well they
are understanding what they are reading. If readers monitor their understanding, they will know when comprehension has failed. If they have the relevant knowledge of strategies, such as re-reading, looking up a word in a dictionary, generating an inference and so on, they can then address a failure to understand.

A comprehension failure might arise for a number of reasons, such as a lapse of attention, poor knowledge of linguistic devices that indicate the causal sequence of events or lack of relevant knowledge or vocabulary.

Comprehension monitoring is evident from early childhood. However, children may apply
different standards to their monitoring as they develop this skill: for example, younger readers
and poorer comprehenders detect nonsense (or unfamiliar) words more easily than statements within a text that are contradictory. This indicates that the reader’s development of a standard of coherence affects their application of this important skill. This does not mean that children are simply late to develop the skill of comprehension monitoring; rather, they don’t always do it even when they know how.

Teaching comprehension monitoring

Four teaching techniques have been shown to be effective in encouraging children to monitor their understanding of text.

  • Think alouds
    This is metacognitive strategy where the teacher models the way they think about what they are reading.
  • Meaning detectives
    Children are asked to identify conflicting pieces of information
  • Summarising
    Students can be asked to summarise a text at set points and provided with feedback as they do each one
  • Visualising
    Encouraging students to visualise a story as a sequence of mental images helps with memory of the story

Hi there!

Want to drop us a line?  You can get in touch by filling out the form below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!